Perhaps you’ve noticed that we’re in a bit of a blogging slump here at This non-American Life. I have plenty of material – 100s of photos, several trips I haven’t blogged yet, 20 or so half-finished posts in the queue – but I haven’t felt like doing anything with it. That’s not so strange; most people seem to go through a period of blogging ennui every now and then. But I still haven’t figured out what to do about it.
So rarely does something I read cause me to yell “YES YES YES!” the way that this commentary did, I figured I’d share it here. The article addresses the ridiculous and ever-growing measures which the US (and consequently other countries) is taking in the name of preventing terrorism attacks on airplanes.
For years I’ve been drunkenly expounding on this subject at cocktail parties to anyone who will listen, but I’ve never managed to sum up my ideas as eloquently as Campos does. Here’s the crux:
It might be unrealistic to expect the average citizen to have a nuanced grasp of statistically based risk analysis, but there is nothing nuanced about two basic facts:
(1) America is a country of 310 million people, in which thousands of horrible things happen every single day; and
(2) The chances that one of those horrible things will be that you’re subjected to a terrorist attack can, for all practical purposes, be calculated as zero.
Zero sounds like a perfectly acceptable level of risk to me! So why is it that I and millions of other travelers must be presented with ever-increasing numbers of hoops through which to jump every time we want to get on an airplane? Why is it considered a good use of time (and resources) for security personnel to hand-check whether my Sigg bottle is completely empty, but having higher speed limits is worth the additional deaths because motorists’ time is so damn precious? And why is it OK for the government to now take and store naked pictures of us in the name of reducing an already-infinitesimal risk? Would you be willing to let the government take naked photos of you if the stated reason was reducing your risk of death by flying tortoise?